It’s time to get medical grade cannabis out of the bogeyman’s realm and into the hands of patients. The bogeyman in this case is comprised of the following types of beliefs:
- that cannabis is evil or dangerous
- that THC is the only useful chemical component in cannabis
- that pharmaceutical science with one hand tied behind its back (courtesy of the DEA) is capable of studying, and understanding the complex chemicals (and their interactions) in each and every plant and when taken by each and every patient in a repeatable predictive scale
- that the same simplistic pharmaceutical science that was applied to the foxglove plant, which yielded digitalis, a heart medicine, can be applied to the much more complex and less understood female cannabis plant
At this point in our scientific understanding, this type of thinking belongs in the museum with the ancient meme of natives shaking rattles. It’s something for us to gently teach our children…that “people actually used to believe this stuff”. But it certainly should have no basis for legislation or regulation of any kind.
Scenario: Patients and caregivers grow their own cannabis medicine, using different strains. Each strain has slightly different chemical percentages of the many cannabis components. The global network we call the Internet facilitates the exchange of knowledge and ideas so that everyone can learn from each others success and mistakes. The normal human bell curve of some people making dumb mistakes while others have success occurs. No one dies. Some people may repeat the mistakes of others, not having the facilities to learn from others. Some may spend a little money, some a lot. Some may be caregivers to medical cannabis patients, some may be growing for themselves.
Techniques for processing the dried plant matter into a wide array of edibles, oils, tinctures, or for smoking and vaping are discussed, perfected and the knowledge is shared for the benefit of all.
Scenario: Pharmaceutical company takes a medical marijuana strain, analyzes and isolates the chemical chain we call THC. In secrecy (fearing industrial espionage — think of the money they could lose!) they create an artificial molecule that looks just like the plant-derived THC. FDA clinical trials, etc. are followed by selected patients using the artificial THC. Problem: A number of patients given the artificial THC die.
Of course, that first scenario is what we’d like to see, while that second scenario has actually already happened.
Sure, the idea of patients dealing with plant material of varying strength, quality, and effects is inherently far “messier” than the concept of uniform pills being doled out to everyone equally…but it’s also far safer and more effective. Standalone THC as a useful medicine is only true for a relatively small number of cases and conditions, while the cannabis plant has been shown to work for millions of people across the world without a single death.
So do we want to save lives, health, and money…or keep wasting them?